|LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2021 | Volume
| Issue : 5 | Page : 255-256
Reopening schools during Covid-19 pandemic
Student, Springdales School, New Delhi, India
|Date of Submission||11-Oct-2021|
|Date of Decision||12-Oct-2021|
|Date of Acceptance||12-Oct-2021|
|Date of Web Publication||30-Oct-2021|
Springdales School, Pusa Road, New Delhi
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Arora N. Reopening schools during Covid-19 pandemic. Curr Med Res Pract 2021;11:255-6
While it is true that schools are an integral and irreplaceable part of childhood and adolescence– a place where creative minds can prosper and become free thinkers and upstanding citizens of the everchanging world.
It is also true that in this pandemic, teachers and students have made quite the adjustment shifting entire institutions and classrooms on virtual platforms.
Over the past year and a half, we have seen how difficult it is to move away from physical school and not be able to enjoy the most memorable years of our lives.
We must remember that all the sacrifices and the compromises we have made with human interactions have been to give us a safer environment so that the spread of the virus can be reduced to a bare minimum.
In the February of 2021, some schools were partially opened, and we shrugged off a few restrictions as we thought that it would be relatively safer, but we saw the consequences of being careless and reckless in the second wave when we saw countless deaths and horrendous circumstances of our families, friends and even strangers.
Our question is whether as of now, should the schools be open again or not?
Well, in my opinion, as school-going student, we should not open schools now. I believe so because I think that opening schools at the moment would be impatient and impulsive and it would make all our efforts and all that we have given up battling this pandemic, go down the drain.
While it is true that a significant amount of the adult population is vaccinated or has at least gotten the first dose, the minors have not yet been vaccinated at all.
I think that if we were to wait for school-going children to get vaccinated, we would all feel a lot more comfortable returning to our lives post-coronavirus disease.
I say this because just as it was a big adjustment to socially distance ourselves, it would be a grand adjustment still, to go back. It will be quite the challenge to return to our lives whilst simultaneously dealing with the paranoia of having gone through a worldwide pandemic and having it disrupt our lives for such a significant length of time.
If students were to be vaccinated, parents would not be quite as frightened to send them back and the awareness of them being safer would most definitely reduce the paranoia that I believe to be just as lethal, if not more, than the virus.
If the schools were to open again, there would have to very strict guidelines and restrictions in place, to ensure the best possible circumstances to return. When we look at children returning, it is very likely that they would not adhere to these instructions, which is quite understandable, since they have not seen their peers in a long time. It would be incredibly difficult to stop them from loitering, sharing tiffin boxes and water bottles and remain at safe distances despite the seriousness of the given situation.
There is also a very real possibility that if the schools reopened, then parents wouldn't send their children anyway for obvious reasons. This would collectively take a toll on the education of children as well as the remaining academic year. Right now, with online teaching, students have comfortable access to their lessons and if these were to stop, very few children would be able to attend offline classes.
The only solution for this would be to have a hybrid teaching model, in which we would conduct offline and online classes simultaneously. If this were to happen, schools would have to invest in a lot of resources, like for example, laptops for teachers and a strong Wi-Fi network to enable this model. Some schools might already have these provisions, but the problem will be there for government schools and schools that are not very well funded. This would be completely unfair as so many children would lose readily available access to online education just because we did not wait for the very understandable paranoia of people regarding this pandemic to die down.
At the end of the day, this decision should be made based on whether it is good for all students and not just a few and the truth remains, that it would be considerably better if we were to wait for vaccination, if not for the reassurance of parents that their child is safe and out of harm's way, then for the sake of equality for all students in India.
Even if we were to somehow get the students to follow protocol, the schools would have to elaborate systems to ensure a safe return. While this may not be a problem for private schools, it would be quite the difficulty for government schools, especially now that the schools would not be able to offer transport services like buses and vans, children would have to depend on their own transport to travel to and from school, which would cause even more hindrances with reopening schools than there already are.
Hypothetically, if we consider, that all of this is possible to achieve, who is to be responsible for ensuring that the schools are going to follow these protocols at all? Should not there be a bit more reassurance for families that their children are safe and sound at the institution that they go to everyday?
As a student, I cannot wait to get back to school for my final year of secondary education, but we also must understand that for us, this is a desirable outcome because we come from a position of privilege in this society, and it just so happens to be our responsibility to think about and properly consider the circumstances of students our age who do not have the same luxuries as us. The answer, to me, is quite clear. If we can wait a year and a half to return to school and resume our lives, then we can wait a bit longer to make it an equal transition in the spirit of empathy and humanity.
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Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.